NHS contact tracing team reportedly mulls switch to Apple-Google API

In what could herald a reversal for the National Health Service in the UK, UK health officials have reportedly asked a team of developers to investigate the switch from its contact tracking application to an API multiplatform provided by Apple and Google.


The NHS COVID-19 application, which includes contact tracing mechanisms. Credit: BBC

The NHS is expected to start testing an internal contact tracing solution this week as part of broader efforts to monitor and mitigate coronavirus sp. Like France, the UK has rejected an arguably more comprehensive API from Apple and Google in favor of a solution capable of storing user informationon in a central database.

It now appears that British officials have hired a Swiss development company to refine the NHS contact tracking application before it sees mass circulation. According to documents published by the Financial Times, this refinement also includes an investigation into the “feasibility” of implementing Apple-Google technology.

The work of the development company is described as a “technical peak within two weeks” with a deadline in mid-May.

“We have worked with Apple and Google throughout the development of the application and it is completely normal and normal to continue refining the application,” an NHSX spokesperson told the publication. NHSX is the digital branch of the NHS and is in charge of the development of the COVID-19 contact tracking application.

The decision to pass the Apple-Google API has been criticized by privacy advocates and technologists. Some of the concerns include the privacy implications of centrally stored data, as well as issues with Bluetooth running in the background on iOS.

Sources told The Guardian on Wednesday that NHS officials were “racing” to improve the privacy and security of its platform.

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